John Ritenour, IOA Co-Founder, Offers Tips for Insurance Producers

Insurance can be a complex field to jump into professionally. The competitive nature of selling insurance makes it hard for producers to find and build strong books. Traditional companies worried about keeping their assets safe are often leery of trusting new producers to the industry. As an experienced insurance producer, John Ritenour, IOA’s Co-Founder, recommends several things to help insurance producers at every level succeed.

Top Tips for Insurance Producers

Knowing about insurance and knowing how to sell insurance successfully are two very different things. Understanding clients’ needs and harnessing long-term relationships are also essential facets for success.

Throughout his long-standing insurance industry career, John Ritenour has discovered ways to nourish all of these integral aspects needed for success. Below, he shares ten ways to build more leads and convert them into more active clients.

Stay on Top of Trends

The innovative leadership at IOA is looking forward to the benefits that new tools bring to insurance producers. In an industry that traditionally tends to shy away from modifications and cutting-edge change, leaders like John Ritenour are determined to be different.

“To be a successful insurance producer, you need to be equipped with the appropriate tools and resources to serve your clients well,” says Ritenour. “Utilizing the best tools not only makes your job easier and more efficient, but it also allows you to offer the best options available to your clients.

Know Your Customer

One unwavering principle that has been with IOA from the start was John Ritenour’s dedication to know his customer’s needs and challenges. This was something he tried to help his entire team pursue. Understanding the customer sets the producer apart from the search engines and insurance websites that customers could use to find their policies.

A small office complex needs an entirely different kind of policy than a large sports franchise that has much higher liabilities. With COVID, these unique challenges have only increased for most businesses. Understanding both new and old challenges will help you build the kind of relationship that will age well.

Go the Extra Mile

Another pillar principal for IOA is going above and beyond for the companies and their contacts. Both John Ritenour and his son, IOA’s CEO, Heath Ritenour, believe in taking those extra steps to make a lasting impression on their customers. The customers who are well taken care of are most likely to switch and stick with their new producer.

Going the extra mile might include looking over a lead’s current plans for free. It may mean not recommending a change if they are in a well-handled deal. The goal is to provide the customer with transparent service that will make them come back to be part of the environment.

Don’t Take “No” Hard

Every professional sales rep is going to run into a LOT of “no”s. However, for every “no,” the producer is one step closer to someone else’s “yes.” The “no” teaches producers how to rethink their strategies. It also means they don’t waste time on a lead who isn’t interested.

Producers need to understand that the “no” is just part of the industry. If they take it to heart, says Ritenour, they aren’t last long in this business. It is one thing to want to please the customer, but producers also have to be confident about the value they are bringing to the table.

Dress Professionally

Insurance industry veteran John Riteour believes that looking the part is essential for commanding respect. In the current workplace, professional attire isn’t always the go-to option. However, dressing up makes a lasting impression on potential leads, says John. Looking professional can help those who feel behind the eight-ball because of inexperience or young age, creating a sense of pride and professionalism within the insurance environment.

Cultivate Relationships

A lot of times, a sale isn’t going to happen with the first meeting. John Ritenour recommends building relationships over time by connecting over similar values. Rather than focusing first and foremost on the sale, the best producers will be focused on what the client needs and fostering that relationship. Cultivation might happen through email or over several meetings. It should continue happening throughout the life of the working relationship, ensuring the customer feels well cared for.

Find Common Ground

As producers work to cultivate relationships, they need to find points of common ground. John notes that the points where someone might find a connection may be surprising. A producer might find out they are familiar with a favorite sports team, drink type, or hobby. They may identify with a specific background story or struggle. This allows them to connect with more customers—building a valuable personal connection.

Learn From Knowledgeable Peers

The IOA leaders work hard to make sure their team is the kind of group willing to help others grow. The IOA structure is set up to encourage peer mentorship and not fierce competitiveness. Learning from peers is an effective way to learn the ropes faster in the insurance business.

“We can’t avoid change. We will only be left in the dust if we try to fight the changes for automation, AI, and other technological advances,” says CEO Heath Ritenour. “To compete, the insurance producer needs to understand the industry, as well as how to wield modern tools. We teach our agents how to bring their strength (human connection) to the table with the right technology to make them faster, more informed, and more effective. Then, we expect them to teach each other.”

Listen More Than You Talk

There is an old saying from the Greek philosopher Epictetus that relays the message; “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Hearing—really hearing—a customer can make a huge difference in meeting their needs.

Too often, a producer will out-talk the customer and stop the sale with chatter. Talking too much is usually a sign of nervousness and may indicate the producer doesn’t know what they are selling. It’s far better to listen to their talking points and challenges to respond appropriately with an offer they won’t want to refuse.

Know the Policies Inside and Out

Most customers can find policies and options online with all of today’s resources. It will be the producer’s ability to connect and explain that is invaluable to customers. Know the policies to offer and exactly how they will impact a customer if they ever need to make a claim.

About IOA

Insurance Office of America was launched in 1988 by John Ritenour, and his wife, Valli. After growing the company for 30 years, he shifted the company leadership position to his son, Heath Ritenour. The company has now grown to be named the 25th largest insurance company in the US and 11th largest privately held P&C company. The company has over 80,000 clients bringing in $225 million in revenue and spanning more than 60 locations with over 1,300 team members.

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